Keeping food warm after cooking, especially if it’s a big meal with various dishes, can be challenging. Those large family gatherings where everyone that arrives brings a new dish and has to be kept warm can pose a problem if you have limited space on your warmer.
As a rule, electric griddles are not designed to be used as hot plates as their primary purpose is to cook a range of foods on a hot surface using the electric element as the heating source. While it may not be designed for this purpose, there could be times when it would work as a warmer.
The real question is not whether you can use an electric griddle as a hot plate, but rather whether you should?
Warming Tray VS Electric Griddle
Warming trays are not designed to cook, and griddles are not designed to keep food warm. That doesn’t mean that either can’t do the other’s job, only that they are not suited for it.
If you look at the critical element of both appliances, it’s the maximum temperatures they can attain AND what they are made of that matters. Warming trays are usually made of tempered glass or steel.
They can hold hot pots right out of the oven, baked cookware, and heat dishes serving dishes that are safe and that have fully cooked food inside.
The griddle is designed to cook raw food and usually has a steel or cast iron surface for maintaining and distributing heat evenly across the cooking surface.
⚡️ Looking for the best electric griddles? Check out our Electric Griddle Buyers Guide
Warming Is All About Temperature
Keeping food warm has some rather technical elements to it. It’s not just a question of keeping food warm, but you need to have a temperature range to safely keep food warm without allowing bacteria to build up inside it.
The FDA has recommended that food be kept at 140°F as a minimum to prevent the growth of bacteria as the food cools down. Most warming trays have a temperature range of 185°F and 230°F, depending on the manufacturer.
This temperature range is not hot enough to cook food thoroughly; this is why these appliances should NEVER be used for cooking food.
Depending on the manufacturer, a griddle had a much wider temperature range from around 200°F up to 450°F, depending on the manufacturer. When cooking, this temperature would be higher than 300°F to cook meat dishes thoroughly and adequately.
So if you want to keep food warm and at a safe temperature, you need at least 185°F or better….well, some griddle’s low heat is between 200°F and 250°F.
So theoretically, setting your griddle on a low heat could indeed work as a warmer, but it would be at the top end of the warming temperature scale.
Food Being Kept Warm Should Not Be Cooking
You don’t want your hot plate hot enough to cook food, just enough to keep it warm until serving. You don’t want your stew or gumbo bubbling away on your warmer, as this could affect the flavor only staying hot enough to get onto the plate still with all the flavor locked inside.
The wide cooking surface of the griddle is ideally designed for both cooking and potentially for placing hot dishes that have just come out of the oven or holding food freshly cooked off the griddle itself.
If the griddle is cold, it would still be able to handle the temperatures of dishes coming out of the oven without any risk. If the griddle is still hot, then placing dishes of food on the surface at cooking temperature could keep the food still, so this is not ideal.
So, if this is not ideal, then what would be ideal?
When You Can Use Your Electric Griddle As A Hot Plate?
Since warming is all about the right temperature, there are some instances where you could conceivably utilize your electric griddle as a warming tray.
If the griddle has just been used for cooking and is now off and cooling down, you could place the dish on the surface to stay warm.
Griddles maintain temperature for a long time if they are steel and even longer if they are made of cast iron. As the griddle cools off, it still maintains enough heat to keep food warm for some time.
While there may be enough heat coming off the griddle to still cook the food in the dish, as it cools off, that will become a hot plate as it cools off.
The second option is to check the technical specs on the griddle and get the minimum temperature settings, and if they fall in the range of between 200°F and 250°F, you could set your griddle on low and use it as a warming tray.
If your griddle’s lowest setting falls outside the warming tray’s 230°F maximum temperature settings, it may not be suitable as a warming tray. Remember that your griddle should not be used as a hot plate every time you cook, instead of on the odd occasion when needed.
How To Check If Your Electric Griddle Could Work As A Hot Plate?
While the lowest temperature settings on the griddle could be safely used to keep food warm, remember that this is not its primary function and should only be used once you have consulted the manual to check the minimum temperatures.
If that information is not available in the manual, the next step would be the manufacturer’s website or calling their technical division to confirm. When it comes to heat, safety is more important.
Lastly, if you are thinking about utilizing an electric griddle as a warming tray, then perhaps consider buying one whose temperature ranges fall into those maximum warming tray temperature settings,
There would be a few available that could have those lower temperature settings. It would be a question of doing some research and finding brands and models that provide the lower temperature options by default.
While most manufacturers may not recommend using your electric griddle as a hot plate, you could conceivably and safely use your electric griddle for keeping food warm.
It would not be safe to use only if there is a specific warning NOT to use your griddle as a warming tray, then the best option is to get a separate warming tray for your kitchen.
The operative word here is always safety with any electrical appliance. You should never use your griddle for anything but its intended purpose, but should you need to use your griddle occasionally as a hot plate, now you know how to do it safely.